Since 1975, the Mustard Seed Street Church and Food Bank has been feeding hungry Victorians.
“We have about 5,000 individuals a month that come through these doors,” says Janiene Boice, director of the not-for-profit.
“Our goal is to be able to provide food, education, and training, and we do that from the support and generous donations of our local community.”
Duncan Chalmers, grant writer for the Mustard Seed, sees every age demographic using the food bank, including university students.
“They’re struggling with their studies,” says Chalmers.
“And their studies are very expensive, so they have to decide what to spend money on. Often it’s hard for them to eat nutritious food. So we do see quite a lot of students, we see a lot of young families, we see a lot of newcomers to Canada – that includes refugees and immigrants. And that’s what I really value about the Mustard Seed, that community centre vibe.”
“We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of our community,” says Boice. “Every one staff [member] is supported by 25 to 30 volunteers on a day-to-day basis, and our volunteers are the blood, sweat and tears of this place. We couldn’t do what we do without the generosity, the support, and the hard work of people in the Greater Victoria community.”
Eldeen Blair is one of those vital volunteers.
“I can’t afford to donate money, but I certainly am retired, so I can give of my time. I come in twice a week, and I can absolutely say without hesitation that I get far more from being here as a volunteer than what I feel I give.”
On Saturday, February 8, you can support the Mustard Seed Food Bank at the Food for Families Gala.
“It’s just a fun night of dancing, and fancy three-course meal. People have an opportunity to dress up, there’ll be a live and silent auction, as well as an opportunity to learn more about who we are, and hear some success stories of people in Victoria. People that were in crisis, addiction, and have come through that, and found success on the other end,” says Boice.
Boice was delighted to add that the music will be provided by The Midnights.
“The Midnights is a professional band, that also includes a few graduates from Victoria High School. It’s a twelve-piece band, R&B and classic music. We called them, and they said ‘of course, we’d love to support you!’ ”